Stephen Doheny-Farina [Doheny-Farina, 1995] and J.Unsworth [Unsworth, 1995] argue that much (or all) of the discourse that happens in a MOO is not direct, but mediated by the MOO operating system:
``Given the manipulation of feature objects in MOO talk, what is happening is not the representation of interpersonal discourse but, as John Unsworth has argued, the representation of the representation of interpersonal discourse. There are several levels of abstraction between the person at the keyboard and the persona appearing in the MOO. And it is the MOO technology that shapes these levels in very subtle but significant ways. ". . . MOOs in general take shape under twin forces not unlike fate and free will," says Unsworth, "where free will is what we always have understood it to be, but where the role of fate is played by the operating system in which the MOO is embedded. . . . [C]omputer operating systems are historically and culturally determined." ([Unsworth, 1995])'' [Doheny-Farina, 1995, last page,]
It can be convincingly argued that technology shapes expression. It is not just that MOOs open up a whole new ``textuality'' (see section 7.1), but interactions are shaped by widely available shortcuts known as ``social features'' (see section 8.3). Let's look a few of those:
>hug MOOboy You hug MooBoy! MooBoy hugs him back. Others in the room will see: Kaspar hugs MooBoy! MooBoy hugs him back. >foof Daniel You foof Daniel! Daniel yays! >pat Daniel You pats Daniel onna head. >hug me You pull your arms around your body. >giggle You giggle like a little school girl. .....
The effect such a verb has can be quite different from MOO to MOO, but some are frequently used in the whole MOO community and do transmit a certain ``way of life''. Programming new social feature objects is not very difficult, however many users don't know how to program or don't have the time for doing it. For all those reasons, social features are a vehicle for transmitting ``cultural style''. [more to come!!!]